Man Martin, Man Overboard (rpt. Winnipeg Free Press, March 16, 2019)

Here’s a link to what just might be my all-time favorite cartoon. Here’s a link to the cartoonist’s daily comic strip. It’s by Man Martin, a high school English teacher from the suburbs of Atlanta; it’s called Man Overboard; and it’s available for free on Facebook and Martin’s website at:

https://manmartin.blogspot.com/

You can also sign up to get them by email. Martin’s cartoons aren’t for everyone, but he told a reporter, John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press, “some of my most loyal fans are clergy.” Longhurst, the Free Press’ religion writer, aptly praises Martin for his “sly and subversive take on Christianity, theology, church and other topics involving religion and the meaning of life.” He adds:

What makes the strip interesting is how it assumes readers have basic biblical literacy, along with some knowledge of theology and church history. I asked if he worries if that might shut some people out.

“Maybe this is what accounts for people’s fondness for the cartoon,” he says. “In an era when organized religion is on the decline, it’s reassuring for people of faith to see cartoons about subject matter uniquely familiar to them.”

Longhurst was so taken with the cartoons, he wrote a column for the Free Press and transcribed his interview with Martin in a separate post to his blog On Faith Canada. He explains, “Since I couldn’t share everything he told me in those few words [in the column], here’s the transcript of my interview—replete with panels from the comic.” The interview is enlightening, and I suspect Martin comes at from a perspective of deep personal faith.

“I like to call myself a ‘practising Christian,’” he told the Canadian newswriter, adding that the word “implies that I still haven’t gotten it right, but I’m not done trying… my faith is about as weak as a reed. I struggle with it, and anticipate I’ll keep on struggling, which is why it so often forms a theme in my cartoons.” [Ellipsis in the original.]

In one passage that speaks to me, he cites some of the “earth-shaking trivia” of the Christological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries and the “slack-jawed stupefaction” of Jesus’ disciples as they “try to figure out what he meant.” Martin, who attends an Episcopal church in the Atlanta area, adds:

This unfortunate tendency of losing sight of the main point is not reserved to theologians, disciples, and other crackpots; every Sunday, I am reminded there are two laws—only two—love God and love your neighbor, and every Sunday I’m back in church needing forgiveness all over again because I couldn’t do those two simple things.

That’s pretty close to my way of looking at things.

Citations

John Longhurst, “Cartoonist sees ‘goofy’ side of religion,” Winnipeg Free Press, March 16, 2019 https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/faith/2019/03/16/cartoonist-sees-goofy-side-of-religion.

Man Martin, “Religious Humor Goes Overboard with Comic Strip,” interview by John Longhurst, On Faith Canada: Reflections by Winnipeg Free Press Faith Page columnist John Longhurst, March 16, 2019 http://onfaithcanada.blogspot.com/2019/03/religious-humour-goes-overboard-with.html.

[Published Aug. 7, 2022]

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